A hint of regulation?

In response to the latest health abuse scandal the Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, has told the Health Information and Quality Authority that it will have to consider actually regulating instead of relying on whistleblowers to uncover abuse.

Ok, it’s nothing more than a suggestion but none the less it is indeed historic that an Irish politician is even hinting that an Irish ‘regulator’ should actually regulate.

Changing times indeed.

Living/Dying in a Third World country

Letter in today’s Irish Independent.

CF sufferers’ hope is fading fast

It has been revealed that the tender process for the long-awaited cystic fibrosis (CF) unit is not working, as the lowest tender failed to get the required finance in time.

The unique tender process, under which the company needs to finance the build and get paid on completion, was given to us as a solution when we campaigned to the Government last year. It is now more obvious than ever that this was a ploy to keep us quiet.

We are tired of writing letters to newspapers and TDs. We are tired of giving out. We are tired of being optimistic. It is unfair to expect us to fight again for more broken promises.

The awareness of the plight of people with CF is at an all-time high. Everyone knows the risks of us picking up potentially fatal infections on admission to shared wards; that our next hospital visit could be our last.

What we are asking for is standard in every other first-world country. We are not looking for gold-plated oxygen tanks!

Our hope is fading and we are asking for your help once again. I don’t want this fight to end when we are eventually silenced by picking up an infection in a sub-standard facility of “care”.

What more can we all say?

Maria Daly
Person with CF,
Carlow Person of the Year — Courage Award 2010,
Marino, Dublin 3

What we are asking for is standard in every other first-world country.

Unfortunately for Maria and all CF sufferers, they are living in a dangerously corrupt Third World country.

Two previous blogs on this disgraceful situation.

“I have absolutely no faith in the HSE or in Mary Harney” Bernadette Cooney, recently deceased. RIP

Broken promises

HSE missing millions – Only one certainty

€2.35 million has gone missing in the HSE.

The Gardai are investigating.

The Comptroller and Auditor General is investigating.

The Department of Health is investigating.

The Department of Finance is investigating.

The HSE is investigating – for the second time.

Health Minister Mary Harney said that if any money had been misappropriated, it was a very serious matter.

No it’s not, the misappropriation of massive amounts of taxpayers money is a very common and fully accepted aspect of the administration of our banana republic, it’s part of what we are.

As with all such scandals in Ireland, there is only one certainty – nobody will be held accountable.

Mary Harney: Once a politican of courage and integrity

At a recent conference proposing a universal health system Minister for Health Mary Harney warned against creating false expectations (RTE, 31.00).

We live in an environment where we don’t have access to additional revenue in the medium term for health just as we haven’t for other areas of public policy either.

And therefore to make recommendations that weren’t based on neutral revenue perspectives would be recommendations that couldn’t be implemented.

During the boom years when there was plenty of money around Harney could easily have put in place a universal health system that was fair to all citizens.

Instead, she enthusiastically pursued a right wing, for profit policy that has firmly established a two tier health system where those with money gain immediate access to treatment while those without, like Suzie Long, are left to take their chances.

Listening to such dishonest waffle from this politician it’s difficult to believe that she was once a person of courage and integrity, that she was a leading influence in challenging the corrupt activities of the criminal Haughey.

How long before the scumbags are thrown in jail?

Dr. Mary Favier of the Irish College of General Practitioners had the following to say on Drivetime (Thursday) regarding the 57,000 x-rays that went unreported in Tallaght Hospital.

57,000 x rays went unreported and orthopedics, where there are waiting times of 600 days, are particularly profitable areas and nobody has answered my question in relation to how many of those 57,000 x- rays were public and how many were private.

The HSE say they don’t know which I find impossible to believe and the hospital is refusing to answer the question. Anybody locally is saying that the vast majority if not all, of those x- rays are public.

A quote from the book, The Bitter Pill, written anonymously three years ago by a doctor working within the health system may provide the answer.

Imagine a radiologist’s office. On his desk sit two stacks of x-rays. One stack, usually the bigger one, is that of public patients; the other is that of private patients.

For each private x-ray the radiologist will be paid upwards of €50. For the public x-ray he has already been paid, in his monthly salary.

Whether the public x-ray is reported on today, tomorrow or next week, the radiologist will still be paid the full amount of his salary, on time.

For private scans, on the other hand, he will be paid only after he has completed them. The upshot is that the private scans often take precedence over the public ones (The Bitter Pill, page 29).

The real question that needs to be answered is – How debased, corrupt and immoral does the administration of this country have to become before the people rise up and throw these contemptible scumbags in jail?

A cynically evil man

Is it the smell of money that’s getting at them?

This was the response of disgraced obstetrician Michael Neary when asked about the complaints of women whose lives were destroyed by his brutal operations.

The full impact of the words of this cynically evil man can best be understood by listening to the news clip (Six One News, 27 mins).

Revolutionary doctor?

Letter in today’s Irish Examiner. It’s noteworthy that the author of this letter, one of the elite of Irish society, speaks of revolution.

My €25,000 pay hike is absurd in the circumstances

THE Bord Snip report makes interesting reading in respect of the recommendations for significant increases in out-of-pocket costs if you are a sick person attending a hospital or in need of medications.

It is particularly relevant in the context of a rise in my gross salary in May of €25,000 to €225,000 under the terms of the new contract for hospital doctors. The cost of implementation of the contract this year is reported to be €140 million.

It also seems absurd that this expenditure has been sanctioned by government and executed by Prof Brendan Drumm, CEO of the HSE, when the Government and he are witness to cuts in Crumlin Children’s Hospital and to totalitarian HSE managers in Naas who are currently forcing the most savage cuts in our public hospitals throughout the country without a care for the needs of patients or frontline staff trying to provide hospital services. While it would appear the terms of the contract must be legally fulfilled, one must question the morality of this in the context of the above facts.

Somehow I thought, given the financial crisis, a mechanism would be found by government to postpone or alter the financial terms of this contract through negotiation with consultant bodies or, if not, through Colm McCarthy’s public service report, whose terms of reference provided wriggle room for him at least to make some comment, if not recommendations, in this regard.

This thorny work, according to the report, is to be dealt with by the reconvened commission on pay for higher public servants.

I am increasingly despondent about the country’s political and health service governance. We are experiencing the worst financial crisis this country has ever seen, and yet Government, on the one hand, can allow a large increase in health expenditure on salaries for highly paid health service personnel and on the other, through its HSE arm, cut hospital and other health services to sick people. Its public service review body does not even refer to these facts, but at the same time makes recommendations to cut social welfare payments to those at the bottom of the ladder.

Is all of this not outrageous? I think we may have had attempts at kidnapping of executives in the HSE or government, or had a revolution, if this had happened in France!

Dr John Barton
Consultant Physician
Portiuncula Hospital
Co Galway

Harney's lies – Crown's vision

Crusading consultant John Crown writes a very strong article is yesterday’s Sunday Independent in which he calls Mary Harney a liar. He compares Harney’s lies with a murderer’s defence and Holocaust deniers.

Strong stuff but this country badly needs more people like John Crown, people who are not afraid to speak out, people who are willing to challenge the corrupt and incompetent. The article is worth reproducing in full.

John Crown also features in an excellent article in the Sunday Tribune in which he outlines his enlightened vision for the Irish health service.

All this spin is making me feel sick

HSE management is so bad, even celebrities could do a better job, writes John Crown

The official reaction of the health bureaucracy to the Sunday Independent column last week about budget cuts in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Dublin, demonstrated the primacy of spin over substance in the running of the health service.

The column was written in response to the extraordinary and brazenly untrue statement by Minister for Health Mary Harney to the Dail, that ward and theatre closures, lengthening waiting lists and service deficiencies in Our Lady’s (which had incredibly lived and worked within its meagre budget in 2008) had not been caused by the savage four per cent funding cut that she and her officials had inflicted on that fine institution for 2009, but were due to it being overstaffed.

In terms of defences it ranked right up there with Sixties’ record producer and now convicted murderer, Phil Spector’s recent testimony at his trial, that his victim had taken his gun from his hand and shot herself, or perhaps with a Holocaust-denying Nazi stating that the victims of the greatest crime in history had, in fact, committed mass suicide.

The assertion that Our Lady’s Hospital is overstaffed is so utterly ludicrous that it can have only one of two explanations: wilful disinformation on her part or a woefully unacceptable level of ministerial ignorance about the reality of professional staffing levels in Crumlin and other Irish hospitals.
I will leave the reader to decide for themselves which of the two is more plausible.

In my column, I drew some comparisons with Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH), a similarly sized institution to Crumlin, but with a substantially larger staff. BCH has 200 full-time consultants, Crumlin has 60. One of the minister’s spin doctors, Derek Cunningham, issued a masterfully spun statement on her behalf which completely avoided the cutbacks, and instead drew inappropriate comparisons between BCH and the totality of paediatric care in Ireland, ignoring the fact that in the English midlands alone, there are 12 other paediatric units.

Mr. Cunningham, please advise your minister how to spin her way out of these facts. We have five paediatric general surgeons in the Republic, Belfast has six. Scotland, with a slightly larger population than Ireland, has 22.

Please note that the UK is a low enough standard of comparison. Denver Children’s Hospital, again about the same size, has 800 consultant-level doctors. UK health administrators love Ireland; we keep them out of last place on all international medical staffing comparisons.

Another spun statement emerged that no emergency surgery was delayed in Crumlin. Well, children who need surgery to correct spinal deformity are perhaps not “emergencies”, but research in Crumlin and elsewhere shows that affected children who have surgery delayed while childhood growth is taking place have less successful outcomes than those who are treated quickly.

The Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, Dublin, officially opened by Ms Harney, is now developing a private paediatric surgery unit. So much for concentration of resources in centres of excellence.

In the same week that the Crumlin cutbacks became an issue of public concern, I was approached by yet another HSE spin doctor (and former Beacon employee) to ask if I would like to meet the senior HSE management, an invitation which had previously been extended to and accepted by Gerald Kean, the successful solicitor and star of Celebrity Bainisteoir who had made a number of thoughtful, insightful and critical public analyses about the management structures of the HSE.

Please note, my invitation, like Mr. Kean’s, came from a spin doctor. So, I have a better idea. Let’s turn the running of the health service over to celebrities altogether. We could call the programme Celebrity Dochtuir.

Paris Hilton, who once famously stated that she always wants to turn left to first class when she boards a plane, could be put in charge of co-location, and the Pussycat Dolls each made HSE regional directors.

They couldn’t do a much worse job than the current leadership structure.

Professor John Crown is a consultant oncologist

Monageer: A new low in accountability

The Monageer Report marks a new low in the administration of our corrupt state.

Fine Gael TD, Alan Shatter wrote an excellent and hard hitting article on the scandal last Thursday in the Irish Independent. Here are some quotes from the article with my comments.

“It is unacceptable in a mature European parliamentary democracy that the report of an inquiry into the deaths of four people including two children murdered by one or both of their parents — and the dealings of state agencies with the family, should be censored.”

Of course Shatter is right; such behaviour would be totally unacceptable in a mature European parliamentary democracy. But in a corrupt backwater state run by ruthless and uncaring politicians it is, sadly, all too acceptable.

“Publication on Tuesday of the Monageer inquiry report with substantial factual background obliterated by black ink at the behest of the Minister for Children is the type of scandalous government conduct and cover-up expected only in totalitarian dictatorships.”


“State agencies and their employees should be properly accountable for the fulfillment of their statutory functions. Ministers in Government are also accountable for their supervision of such agencies and for the extent to which resources are provided to enable them to properly carry out their statutory duties.”

This is the case in real democracies but when State agencies and politicians confer upon themselves powers that border on the absolute, as has happened in Ireland, then accountability is no longer an issue. Democratic accountability will only become an issue again when the present corrupt system is completely destroyed.

“For the first time in the history of the State a report has had seven of the inquiry team’s recommendations censored and blacked out…”

“Consequently, there is no way of assessing in the future the extent to which they have been implemented…”

“It is reasonable to assume that they were censored because their publication would reveal undisclosed inadequacies in existing services and their concealment protects the Government from criticism in the future for not implementing the seven recommendations…”

“This scandalous and disreputable conduct by the Government and the ministers concerned is intolerable…”

“It seems clear from the approach taken by the Government and the relevant ministers that their priority is to protect the political reputation of Government members and to protect the professional reputation of those who made mistakes…”

“It seems this is a greater priority than to protect the future welfare of children.”

As we have seen on many occasions in the past, the protection of children and even the lives of citizens take second place when it comes to protecting the careers and interests of politicians and public servants.